Danya River (left) and Michael Hynes
Independent producer and engineer Michael Hynes, who co-owns Hideout Studios in Austin, Texas with partner Mark Cravotta, has recorded Danya River’s newest album, a follow-up to River’s critically acclaimed 2004 EP, Bone By Bone. River has been described as a melding of Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow and Shawn Colvin.
Hynes relied on a Crowley and Tripp Studio Vocalist ribbon microphone to capture River’s four-and-a-half octave voice. “The female voice is very complicated,” Hynes says, “and Danya’s voice is particularly so. She has a very rich, even low-end and captivating breathiness. I searched high and low for a vocal microphone that would capture that nuance. I tried all of the German classic condensers, vintage and contemporary. I kept hearing artifacts in the high-end that accentuated some frequencies at the expense of others. The result wasn’t pleasing.
“The Crowley and Tripp Studio Vocalist ribbon was just the microphone I had been searching for,” Hynes continues. “It captured the warm bottom-end of her voice and enough breath and presence so that I didn’t think of it as a normal ribbon. The Studio Vocalist captured her voice the way I heard it naturally in the room with my ears. The breathiness was there, the high-end was detailed and present, but the harsh artifacts I heard with the condensers were entirely absent. Instead, Danya’s voice came through naturally.”
For the album, Hynes sent the Studio Vocalist into a Sage Electronics preamp, an API 5500 2-channel equalizer, a Neve tape-drive processor and a Neve Portico compressor. He used the API 5500’s ability to dial-in half-decibel boosts and cuts “without a hint of harshness” to fine tune the high-end.
Hynes miked a Hammond B3’s Leslie cabinet with a pair of Crowley and Tripp Naked Eye ribbon microphones arranged in a Blumlein configuration. He used the same Blumlein pair for drum room mics, six feet from the kit. He placed a single Naked Eye a few inches from the guitarist’s Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp, angled off-axis. When acoustic guitar and Dobro resonator guitar called for a brighter sound, Hynes flipped the Naked Eyes around to use the “bright” lobe of the mic’s figure-8 pickup pattern.